Catholic Reflections for an Updated Donum Vitae Instruction: A New Catholic Challenge in a Post-Christian Europe
Christian Bioethics 2008 April; 14(1): 42-57
On February 22, 1987, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the Donum Vitae Instruction. Twenty years later, on February 22, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI asked for an update of this Instruction. According to the Donum Vitae Instruction of 1987, the principle of the holiness of life imposes respect for human persons from the very beginning of human life. In these past 20 years, new medical techniques have raised fresh ethical issues that are to be addressed by the Roman Catholic Church Magisterium. The Roman Catholic Church, in its update of the Instruction planned for 2007, will have to explain how civil law is to be regulated according to the fundamental norms of the moral law. The moral message of the new Donum Vitae (just as in the 1987 version) will be to affirm the substance of human justice: respect for human life, as expressed in the resolve not to infringe on, or to protect such life. Even in a post-Christian Europe, this theological message can be understood if it is true that Europe is marked by the principle of the absolute protection of human life.
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